How Do I Tell Him It Bothers Me That I Paid for My Ring?

Am I being shallow?

Q: My fiancé proposed late last year. It was incredibly romantic, and he used a ring given to him by a family member. During the proposal he told me we could pick a new ring out together if it wasn’t to my taste. Two important things to note here: 1) He’d been planning the proposal for around four or five months; 2) I’ve always wanted to split the cost of an engagement ring. I expect him to treat me as an equal, so I want to act like one. It’s not for everyone, you do you, etc., but it’s what I wanted, and he’d known that since long before the proposal.

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A few weeks afterward, I found some rings I loved. He was involved in the process. We went shopping together and talked money, etc. When it came to ordering I was the one to pay the first installment, which was approximately half, as he was unable to come to the jeweler with me that night. I told him how much was left to pay upon collection, and he said it was no problem.

Two weeks later the ring was ready, but he said he didn’t have enough to cover it, and if I could pay the final amount, he would pay me back after pay day. But it’s been months now, and we’ve been saving hard; he never has enough to spare. We’ve also joined our accounts, and I know it feels like it’s impossible for him to pay me back as it’s all “our money” anyway. Sure, he’s paying into our savings, but it just doesn’t feel like he’s paid for part of the ring.

To make it clear, I don’t care about the money. I love him and am thrilled to be engaged. What upsets me is a) that I feel like I bought the ring myself, and b) that he proposed and said we could buy a new ring, but he hadn’t put any money aside for one. Both of these things really upset me, but I don’t know how to fix it. I’ve talked to him about how I wish I didn’t feel like I bought it for myself, but he’s already stressed about money and I don’t want to make it any worse. I feel like there’s no point telling him I’m upset that he didn’t save up before proposing, as he can’t change that now anyway.

Am I crazy for feeling sad about this? What should I do? Any and all advice welcome.

—Possibly Shallow

A: Dear PS,

You say there’s no point in telling him, but there’s definitely a point.

You’re right that this engagement ring’s ship has sort of sailed. The ring is paid for, your finances are joint, short of using all of his spending money or working overtime to pay you back (not bad options, I’m just saying), there’s no going back and splitting it.

But, as with every relationship argument ever ever ever, it’s not really about fixing what’s already been done. It’s about laying the groundwork for better interactions ahead.

You’re bothered that, knowing you wanted to split the cost of the ring, knowing that he planned to propose in five months, he at no point decided, “Hey, maybe I should set some money aside for this!” And then he had a few weeks before you went to pick it out, and he still didn’t save. And then he had a few weeks before the final payment, and this dude still. didn’t. save.

That’s really irritating. There’s no undoing it. But you can make sure he knows why it’s not cool so that he (hopefully, dear God) isn’t so bad at planning, for life or for finances, again. Yeah, this is your only engagement ring (presumably). But it’s not the only time he’ll give you something nice that requires a bit of planning. It’s not the only time he’ll need to look ahead and budget for an expected expense.

It’s worth considering, too, whether or not this is part of a larger pattern of financial irresponsibility. Joining finances means you also take the fall when he makes bad financial decisions. Your accounts are already joint, but pooling funds is different from being legally on the hook for every bad financial decision someone makes. So it’s worth thinking about what this means for your financial future together, and if you’re up for whatever that might look like.

This ring situation is irritating, and it can’t be undone. But it’s not nearly as irritating as reliving this same problem on every special day for the rest of your marriage. Luckily, you still have time to fix that.

—Liz Moorhead


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